I developed a whole new level of respect for people, all sorts of people, at the weekend. Saturday night I was too tired to talk but did somehow manage to drive back from Glasgow without causing a major motorway incident. However I did have a little bundle of metalwork to clutch in my hand to cheer me along. Competitive? Me? Well, what do you think?
The eight of us representing the East Lothian Masters who went to the Scottish Masters swimming at Tollcross on Friday and Saturday would like to think that we’ve arrived on the scene in style. The two younger ones have been competing at club level quite recently but for the rest of it was a whole new and humbling experience! Having raced (sorry, taken part) in triathlon over the last few years, I could not have believed how hard it would be to do a series of swimming races over a day and a half – after all, on a triathlon, it’s non stop for (in my case) more than an hour and a half, and what can be so hard about swimming a few lengths of the pool with big long rests between races?
I suspect my cause wasn’t helped by the virus I was incubating. My considered advice to the children would have been that they shouldn’t be racing. But hey, whoever listens to that sort of advice? By length 5 of the 200m freestyle I was hanging on to the toes of the lady in the next lane but thinking I might die. By length 7 I could barely breathe, knew I was going to die and the toes in the other lane were going in the opposite direction. Strangely, I still seem to be alive. I found that the 200m, a distance I have never raced before, was by the far the hardest event as it is on the cusp between endurance and sprint. My first race was the 800m, very definitely endurance. I felt very calm before I hit the water but, halfway down the first length, the realization of what I was doing suddenly hit and my pulse rate rocketed. It took a few lengths to get things back under control and so my pacing and overall time weren’t great. I lost count about halfway through but eventually could hear the ringing of distant bells. No, I wasn’t hallucinating; they were ringing for the final 50m – unfortunately mostly for other people. Mine seemed to be a long time coming. I’ll try harder next time!
By the time I got to the end of the 50m freestyle at the end of Day 2, I felt like I really had very little left; a bit like the walk back up the road to the car after a long day in the hills. And when I say I have never raced the 200m before, what I really mean is that I have done no racing of this sort for over 30 years and even then not over the distances I was doing this weekend.
Meanwhile, there were 80 and 85 year olds approaching the blocks with walking sticks, leaping into the water and setting new Scottish Records with abandon. If I’m still alive at 80 I’ll be happy, let alone swimming butterfly. And so many people seemed to be racing all the strokes at all sorts of distances.
So how did we do? I took silver in the 800m free, bronze in the 400m & 200m free and came 4th in the 50m fly and 5th in the 50m free; my times weren’t great but it was certainly a whole new experience. We also swam several relays and despite confusion (read “argument”) about the eligibility of our teams, came away with gold in the womens’ medley. Fiona won our only individual gold of the meet, in the 200m breaststroke with bronze in the 100m. Brad won bronze in the 50 & 100m fly. We all put some times on the board and hopefully are inspired enough to enter some more meets, more individual events and encourage some others along. And never mind t-shirts in team colours – what we need are team coloured sharkskin body suits. Then we can really strike fear into the opposition.
Suddenly it was Sunday morning and I was up at the crack of dawn to take GP2 to the Dunbar Junior triathlon. It was good to have a morning out of doors after a day and a half poolside. GP2 acquitted himself well in a competitive race and was 5th, less than a minute outside the medals. All the children seemed to enjoy themsleves on a lovely, although windy morning – the cycle around Winterfield Park must have been hard into the wind with mountain bikes on wet grass. I was marshalling on the run route and had to stop one little girl on the way back to get her breathing under control. My advice to her was to use my strategy of walking the next bit while noone was watching and then to start running as soon as she was in sight of the spectators. Anyhow she survived to the finish line and was smiling broadly later on in the cafe; there is always a huge sense of personal achievement after these things. And I knew just how she felt!
No photos as I lost my camera at Dunbar yesterday.